Skinner comes home


Photo by Caden Rainwater

Photo illustration by Caden Rainwater. Experiences in high school and collegiate basketball and a strengthened faith gave Jacob Skinner a new perspective on coaching.

Story by Caden Rainwater, sports editor

His passion, his sport, his calling.

Basketball has always been a special part of head coach Jacob Skinner; ranging from his childhood spent in the Boys and Girls Club of Texarkana to playing for the Tigers during his time at Texas High, basketball became a part of his childhood that someday could become more than just a childhood memory.

“Basketball has been the sport that has just drawn me in from a very early age,” Skinner said. “Through my childhood, I played a little bit of soccer and basketball. Ironically, I never touched a baseball all my years in a Northeast Texas high school.”

Leaving high school, Skinner attended the University of Arkansas in pursuit of a business major. With big dreams of being the next big entrepreneur, the sport of basketball was momentarily in the rearview mirror for Skinner. However, halfway through college, Skinner made a quick decision to change majors which set him on the path to coaching.

“I expected to simply walk through [college] and be the next Sam Walton and create a Walmart, but that never worked out,” Skinner said. “I decided to change my major to business education where I later graduated with a masters in education.”

Another change of heart took place between Skinner’s sophomore and junior years of college: an adjustment of his faith.

“I had the opportunity to pour into kids’ lives for 12 weeks at a sports camp in Branson, Missouri,” Skinner said. “It no longer was about how much money I could make or how successful I become; I simply wanted to be a game-changer for young adults.”

Returning after his graduation from the University of Arkansas in 2008, Skinner became a business teacher who was merely referred to as a part-time coach. After holding the position of ninth-grade coach for three years, Skinner became the head basketball coach at the age of 26.

“I spent a total of four years coaching at Texas High,” Skinner said. “I was able to show decent success as we went on to win the district by district championship.”

Despite the newfound success, Skinner moved to Springdale after meeting and marrying his wife. Remaining there for four years, he and his wife moved back to Texas High to continue his job as head basketball coach.

“Keith Jones, who took over once I stepped out of the picture, decided to step down from the title ‘head coach’ and return to coaching the JV team and be the varsity assistant coach,” Skinner said. “My family has strong family ties to the town; it’s where I started my career and where I plan to end my career as a Tiger.”

The guiding factor to Skinner’s migration to Springdale, as well as returning to Texarkana, was simply his faith. As a Bible-believing Christian, Skinner placed his trust in God as to where his family was meant to be.

“We had some family dynamics that took us out of town, and just as we left, through prayer, we felt confident that God was pulling us back to Texarkana,” Skinner said. “Right when I moved back here, the job opened up and I was hired back.”

Although high school sports can be toxic and unhealthy for believers, Skinner exemplifies a second Timothy coaching technique. 

“I believe in correcting, rebuking and instructing. However, I direct my coaching with humility and patience,” Skinner said. “Any of my players could tell you what I believe in, and wins or losses, that’s what I’m most proud of.”

Returning to Texas High School, Skinner plans to implement some new changes to the Tigers’ basketball team. After spending four years witnessing the University of Arkansas’ basketball program, Skinner brings new coaching techniques to the table in an attempt to accomplish the ultimate goal: win games.

“Establishing a culture will establish a change, bettering not only the team but the community,” Skinner said. “It’s time to be more progressive in our program, and winning games will simply be a byproduct of what we do day in and day out at practice.”

At the root of Skinner’s history in the sport and ability to coach, his passion comes from his ability to be a parent to his players. Seeing that the coaching staff only has the kids for a short period of their lives, for Skinner, it’s about the investments made in the time being.

“We don’t get to be these kids’ real parents, but we do get to be a part of their growing period, and that’s what it’s all about,” Skinner said. “It’s not about playing time, it’s not about points on the scoreboard, at the end of the day it’s simply about being impactful and passionate, and being a leader in a kid’s life.”